Letters to the Editor
Health scare voids Americans' rights?
On Friday last, the Indianapolis Planned Parenthood Clinic was the target of a stupid practical joke. Someone sent them an anonymous letter claiming to contain anthrax.
Admittedly a dumb stunt by someone who wanted to make their lives a little more miserable, it should have ended there. Similar letters were sent to clinics in other communities in Kentucky and Tennessee, where they were quickly recognized as a hoax and treated appropriately, without any hassle to the employees.
But in Indianapolis, somebody in authority went completely crazy. Someone there apparently thought this was an opportune time to suspend the Constitution and declare martial law. The building was immediately surrounded by armed police, who swooped in to quarantine the people inside. Those inside were made virtual prisoners and not allowed to leave. If this had happened in Nazi Germany or Bosnia, we would all be thankful it could never happen here.
Then, at least a dozen members of one of the city's hazardous materials response teams entered the building in white decontamination suits and forced the people inside to remove all their clothes and placed them in plastic bags. Then they were marched outside to a portable, enclosed outdoor shower in the parking lot and scrubbed down for up to 10 minutes each. Then they were given hospital johnnies, transported to an area hospital where they were put in an ambulance bay, and were given another vigorous shower by members of the hazardous response team.
Later that day, the content of the envelope was examined and discovered to be harmless. These clinic employees were stripped not only of their clothes but also of their civil rights, by a government that had gotten too big, too powerful. This is a wake-up call for all Americans.
If it could happen in Indianapolis, it could happen anywhere. Accused of no crime, they were humiliated, degraded, dehumanized and treated worse than common criminals. For a 24-hour period, they became non-persons. They apparently had no protection under the law, and it could all happen again with the next prank letter.
"This is not a time to panic," said Dr. James Howell, of the Indiana Department of Health." But panic they did. I am certain there will be multi-million-dollar lawsuits against the City of Indianapolis and the state, but will that be enough? Will the civil authorities ever get the message that you cannot treat innocent Americans like this? It is a shame the "authorities" who were responsible for this drill cannot be prosecuted criminally for their actions, run through the county jail system and receive the same shabby treatment they had levied on their victims.
Today the world is lit by lightning, and the gleam from those original American ideals are hard to discern. They're firing on Fort Sumter again. But when all individual rights have been squandered for the sake of the so- called "greater good," then who will stand in the winds that will blow then?
Impressive prison dedicated to son
I would like to tell you about the new prison they built in Shirley, Mass. In 1972, on July 31, two correctional officers were shot in Norfolk prison. A new prison was built in Shirley in honor of these two men, James R. Souza and Alfred Baranowski.
The prison is named Souza Baranowski Correctional Center, and both families were invited to the Sept. 30 ribbon-cutting ceremony, including my two grandsons and their mother. It was a beautiful affair, very sad, and brought back a lot of memories.
In front of the prison is a monument with both names on it. We were impressed; everything is so modern all computerized. I only hope the inmates that are put there take care of the place where they have all the comforts of home.
We were honored that they did not forget these two men that lost their lives the line of duty. My son was only 29 and the other one was 42. I'm really happy that God keep their memory alive.
MARY C. SOUZA
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